The director of National Intelligence apologized in June to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee for lying during a hearing, according to a letter published on the DNI website on Tuesday.
Director James Clapper appeared before the committee in March, where Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked him specifically if NSA spies on millions of Americans. Clapper answered, "No."
Since then, Edward Snowden reportedly leaked government documents that unveiled a secretive government program that did precisely what Wyden suggested in collecting meta data for cell phone and internet records of hundreds of millions of Americans.
Clapper says the intricacy of Wyden's question – asking for a clarification of "hundreds of millions of dossiers on people" – combined with a need to preserve classified information prompted him to give the wrong answer.
What is the penalty for lying to the Congress of the US?
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 47 > § 1001 § 1001. Statements or entries generally (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully- (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both. -snip- (c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to- (1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or (2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.